Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Best Moments

This year, Christmas was a leetle different for us. For the 2nd time ever, I did not make it home for Christmas(the first being I was great with child and hypertensive and the OB said "No, you cannot travel 350 miles to spend Christmas with your family in Alabama." Worst. Christmas. Ever. Bleh). This year, my parents came here. We had a great time, but honestly, I'd rather be "home" for Christmas.

Besides that minute detail, this Christmas was the most fun I can remember (of my married life). Maybe because the kids are all getting old enough to really participate and get excited. We did not wrap any presents, or at least put them under the tree, until a couple of days before Christmas. I only had to re-wrap one gift (Miss Emma's doing), so all in all, they resisted temptation pretty well. When the gifts started piling up, the stars in their eyes begin to light. And not for the reason you would think children would light up at the sight of gifts. No, this year, they were more excited about the giving part.

We have a wonderful neighbor who has adopted our kids as surrogate grandchildren (or maybe they adopted her). She came to me about mid-November and asked me if she could take each child to town with her, one at a time, to do something special for Christmas. She explained that when her grandchildren were little, she would take them to the Dollar Tree, one at a time, and let them pick out a gift for every member of their family. With no interference or direction about what to buy, she just let them choose on their own. Oh boy. I knew right away this was going to be interesting. And it WAS.

It was the highlight of every family gathering. My husband's grandparents, his Dad & step-mom, his Mom and my parents were all recipients of some quirky, and some downright hilarious gifts:

*My Dad (who is a few hairs away from complete baldness)--a hairbrush (!!)--from Elijah

*Papaw Bobby -- a bobbing dashboard hoola girl :)--from Gracie

*Poppy--a crystal growing kit (What in the world?)--from Elijah

*Beamie--a pack of hand sanitizer and a water bottle

*John (Daddy)--an oversize Santa hat (from Grace)

I received an antebellum woman porcelain figurine from Elijah and a snow globe from Grace. How sweet is that? I was touched that they picked things of beauty and fascination (to them) for their Mom *tear*.

Miss Patsy (said neighbor) was tickled because Grace picked out this horrible dinosaur mask thing for Elijah, and when it was his turn to go shopping, what did he do but pick up that very mask and say he wished he had one! I'd say she knows her big brother pretty well.

Children have such a beautiful way of reminding us of the simple truths. I walked by my foyer table one day, and noticed my oh so precisely arranged nativity scene had been re-arranged a little.

Does this strike you as deeply as it did me? The face of every animal and every person was turned to gaze at the beautiful, brand-new baby Jesus. It looks as if they couldn't get close enough, couldn't get enough of the miracle of Him. Even the little sheep have their noses pointed to the manger where He lay. Little Miss Gracie, with her innocent child-play, stopped her Mama in her tracks that day and reminded me to forget about the list, the baking, and the decorating, and fix my eyes on Him.

Another moment of note happened on Christmas morning. Elijah, always the first to rise, had been dying to get up since 6:45, but I managed to keep him in bed until 7:15. He woke his sisters up, and they ran giggling down the hall, only to be stopped by their Dad. "Follow me", he told them, and then proceeded to lead them all over the house, single file, before finally leading them to the tree. The kids loved Daddy's "Christmas march", and I hope it's something they do until they are 20!

Mom with her re-upholstered purse I made her out of a skirt and a woven purse (more about that later).

Listening as my Dad read "Fancy Nancy" to the girls--french accent and all!

And last but certainly not least, Christmas dinner. Turkey, mashed potato, pea salad and cheesy olive bread with snickerdoodle cake and pecan pie for dessert. Our meal was simple but flavorful and filling, and I spent more time with my family and less time in the kitchen as a result :).

My centerpiece was compiled of live holly branches from our neighbors' tree, some feathers from Hobby Lobby and those twirly things I pulled off the tree. That'll do it!

As I recall these moments, I realize how blessed beyond measure I am. The words of the Psalmist ring truer every year--"He daily loadeth us with His benefits."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Pics '10

We have not had out kids photoed professionally in over 3 years!! Isn't that sad? And Miss Emma-Rae has never had her pictures taken. Ever. :(

Somehow the extra $$ just isn't ever there. But I do have a pretty good little camera (although I am wanting a new one BAD) and usually do their Christmas, Easter, & Birthday pics myself. Here's this year's photo shoot.

And might I add, I do have some pretty good-looking subjects :).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Unexpected Gift

The greatest gift ever given to me is my family. My DH and our three beautiful babies. The raising of our children and making of our home is the "highest calling" of my life. But sometimes in the midst of the training, the housekeeping, the day-after-day sameness, the little nagging voice of doubt starts in. FAILURE. That word sneaks in more often than I'd like to admit. Fail, fail, fail. And some days, my craving for a little encouragement is overwhelming. It wouldn't take much...just a little bit would make such a difference.

This week was the week of the dreaded numbers game on Facebook. I watched, annoyed, for a little while, and finally joined in and sent out my number to a few people who asked. One girl, who I attended church with when DH & I were newlywed, and is now a mother of two herself, posted this comment:

" have such a beautiful family!! Always thought that you would make a good friend : ). Love it that you're talented and self-sacrificing! You're very beautiful woman and I'm sure the Lord has more great things in store for you and your wonderful family : )"

Wow. I sat there and was stunned to find tears flowing down my cheeks. This girl & I probably haven't even had a complete conversation in over 4 years. We run in different circles and just haven't the opportunity for more than a friendly "How are you?" when we do run into one another. I never expected that she saw me in that light. I never expected to receive encouragement from her.

But God knows that the most precious moments in our lives are the unexpected,and every now and then He sends us an unanticipated gift. Isn't he the best gift-giver?

Let's pay it forward. Give the gift of encouragement to someone this weekend. A simple text, a card, or a hug and a compliment is all it takes. A little goes a long way.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Time Jam

You know how when you're trying to get somewhere and it's really important, or you've been driving for hours on a long trip and outta nowhere, you look up and all the cars in front of you are stopped. It's the dreaded. traffic. jam. You creep and you inch and you. stop. And then there's these annoying people who keep trying to nudge in front of you and hop in your lane {not sure what that has to do with anything but it always happens to me. HATE that.}

My point. Here we are, a mere 3 weeks way from Christmas. And my whole family has strep throat. For the 2nd week in a row.

*There is a Christmas tree, halfway put up.

*Christmas pictures, un-taken, un-addressed, un-mailed.{and a computer that will not import pics from memory cards}.

*Christmas gifts, un-shopped for and un-wrapped.

*Christmas baking, un-planned.

*Christmas programs for Children's Church, un-rehearsed.

*Those mouth-watering Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls, un-made.

*And my parents are coming here for Christmas this year (!!!)

And here I sit, quarantined in my house nursing a highly-contagious, potentially deadly strep throat that has attacked me and my family.

What I am experiencing, folks, is a time traffic jam. I do not recall giving my permission for this.

It's got me feeling downright Grinch-y!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Memories At Thanksgiving

{Alabama road where I roamed as a child}

Farewell, Thanksgiving. After the weeks of thankful anticipation, you came and went in the blink of an eye. Every moment was savored and enjoyed; maybe that's why they slipped through my fingers like sand. Time flies when you're having fun.

We traveled across two states to my hometown in Alabama for Thanksgiving this year. Usually, we host Thanksgiving at our house for DH's side of the family, but this year we rearranged things a bit. My Dad's older brother (his only living family member) and 3 of his 4 daughters, along with their families, made the trip all the way from Georgia, and we had a family reunion Thanksgiving. None of us had seen each other since my Grandmother, "Nanny" passed away, six years ago in January. It was time for a reunion, don't you think?

{all the cousins, except for my brother, Jonathan (died 1991), and another cousin, Sandra, who had to work)

My brother, and his family of 6 (, now reside in the "homeplace", my Grandparent's house, where they raised four boys and farmed for a living. We all gathered here to give thanks, and it really was a good day. Despite John coming down with strep throat, Emma falling off the top bunk, Grace throwing up at the dinner table, and cousin Jamie falling in a hole and spraining her ankle, we still managed to have a great time. Some of us cousins haven't spent much time together as married adults, and it was fun to get to know the newer versions. Our children met some of their 2nd cousins for the first time, and I believe lasting friendships were formed.

{a hayride full of cousins. I love how my daughter, Grace, is captured in a full belly-laugh)

{gathering of great-grands. Eight were missing. My two girls were napping, and Leta's oldest was absent, as well as Sanda's four and Cynthia's daughter}

It was bittersweet for me, reflecting on days that are now by-gone. I found myself fighting a lump in my throat, thinking about the precious ones that are already in heaven, making it even sweeter. Both grandparents, two uncles, and my own sweet brother were not there in body, but certainly in spirit. I saw Papa Cooper in my Dad's soft, smiling mouth and twinkling eyes. I heard Nanny in Uncle Vernon's laugh and saw her in his gestures. I heard Uncle James Harold in my brother Bradley's voice and was reminded of Jonathan when I looked in my oldest nephew, Emory's eyes.

My Mom surprised me with a stack of pictures that I had never seen before, snapshots from childhood and before. And as I looked at faces that I will never again see in this life, I was thankful, for the time we did have with them and the memories we will never forget, that death cannot rob us of. And for the hope of heaven and the final reunion of all reunions.

{Jonathan and I, a couple of years before he died}

Now that's something to be thankful for.

*Thanks to Leta & Lisa for all the awesome photos!

Friday, November 12, 2010

What I'm Loving Friday

A girl joyfully doing her chores...

A Father and his attentive apprentice...

Feathered friends who will soon be nesting cozily in their new laying-boxes....

Pigtails and favorite boots......

A Daddy who was home all day in honor of the veterans....

My family all together, working together

*Disclaimer: our back yard does not normally look this messy--we were cleaning out our work shed :).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Martha, Martha

Wow! Look! It's a post! What do ya know? Yes, it's been pretty quiet on the blog front, but please do not assume that reflects the condition of the rest of our life here in Acklentown. You would be grossly in error. I never stop. I hit the ground a-running and collapse into bed at night, wondering where the time went and did I accomplish anything?

Yep, I did not my daily two loads of laundry. Yep, the dishes are washed. Yep, kiddos were schooled. Yep, the floor was swept {or not}. Guess that'll have to do.

There's one lesson I seem to have to learn over and over. It is--slow down before you get into a tizzy. The more pressured I feel, the more irritable I am. The shorter my patience becomes. It's not worth it to get so pent-up that I snap at the smallest little pluck of my strings. Stop. Breathe. Let it goooooooo. Am I the only who has to tell herself that?

The Lord has His way of reminding me.

Luke, chapter 10--

38Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.

40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Aahh...Amy,'re too busy working on the temporal things. Let it go and invest in the spiritual, eternal things around you.

This blog is one of those temporal things that I have to say "no" to sometimes. As much as I love it, it can be a distraction if I let it.

On a lighter note, I am full-throttle into making my Christmas gifts for Mom and the SIL. I am SO itching to share them with you, but prying eyes are watching :). I am ready to put up the Christmas tree and crank up the Christmas music. Here come the holidays! Are you excited yet?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

These Kids of Mine

Anyone who says that being a stay-at-home-Mom is nothing but boring has not met my three bright, funny, crazy kids. Their quirky, innocent remarks and antics keep my days entertaining. It is anything but boring. In the last week or so, they've been especially full of nonsense :).

Emma, my spunky, busy 2-yr-old is usually ready to eat her vegetables. But Monday night, when we I served broccoli casserole for supper, she took one bite of the broccoli, spit it out and said, "Yuck. Chicken poop!" I attempted to ignore the reference, hoping the older two would not catch on and make an issue out of it. But it was stuck in her brain. When her Dad sat down at the table, she pointed to her bowl and said, again, "Chicken poop!" I sent him a message with my eyes that said, "Nuh-uh. Don't acknowledge." I mean, who wants those words to be a part of their toddlers vocabulary? I can just picture us in church and her shouting out the words at the quietest possible moment. After supper, we walked over to a neighbor's house for a visit. When asked what she had for supper, Emma replied, "Chicken poop!" Stinker, I tell ya. Rotten.

Gracie, the middle child at 4 1/2, is going through a phase of talking about what she is going to do when she grows up. She recently excitedly told me, "Guess what, Mama! When I grow up, and all my family dies, I can ride in the car all by myself!" Well, I'm glad she'll be spared the pangs of grief. Ding, dong, the family's dead! Let's go for a ride in the car!

Elijah, my eldest and most impressionable, never forgets anything. He has a photographic memory like his Father, which makes it of the utmost importance that we shelter him from viewing anything we don't want to be stuck in his brain for the next 25 years. After our last trip to the library, I will now be scanning any books prior to his viewing them. Or maybe I'll leave them all at home and pick their books out myself. Anyway, he chose a "No, Dave" book, which {I did not notice until it was too late} has an illustrated picture of the incorrigible little tot running down the street in his birthday suit, from the backside. Elijah looked at the book for approximately 1 1/2 minutes while we drove from the library to church. Upon sitting down in the service, he promptly picked up his notebook and drew the exact replica of little Dave's exposed backside, plain as day. You can imagine my shock at glancing over and being mooned from off the page! :) In church, no less!

Yes, there's always something to laugh about, which cancels out those frustrating moments when I feel like I don't have an ounce of energy or patience left. These moments are like little doses of strength giving me encouragement to keep on going. "The joy of the Lord is my strength."

{For those of you who have seen these stories already on Facebook, please forgive the redundancy. I wanted to post them on here for the sake of record-keeping :)}

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Preserving Children's Art

My little boy Elijah has a fervent passion for drawing. The first thing he does in the morning is grab a notebook and a pen, and at bedtime, we have to double-check in on him to make sure he has put it away. He draws for literal hours during the day, and we go through notebooks and packs of markers like toilet paper (if you have kids, you understand this analogy). I want to save his best drawings, but it gets overwhelming.

I started a binder for this purpose, but he wants to add/remove drawings as he thinks appropriate. It kinda defeats the purpose. An aunt of mine suggested I take pictures of them and keep them on a disc, and my husband recently suggested I scan them (which makes great sense).

Has anyone else had this challenge? Do you have any better ideas than the ones I've mentioned?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sick Week

{Or two}.

This is a break in the usual monotonous, post-less state of blog broadcast to inform you that the author thereof is not dead. Yet. I mean I thought I was near it last week, but my health been restored, though not completely at this state. And the week before that the kiddos took turns with near-death episodes of chronic yucky crud-y-ness. The ear-aching, throat-burning, fever-raging, bone-chilling kind of crud. Then they handed it off to me. Ungreatful whelps.

Through it all I learned one thing.

*Tylenol is my friend.

*Honey tea is a sore throat's friend.

*Pity parties are not beneficial.

Wait, that's 3 things.

It was very, very exciting to load up the ole Dashboard and see that I have two new followers! And very, very frustrating that my blogger is apparently having some cosmetic issues and cannot show me who they are. So, new followers, I welcome you! Whoever you are. Please, leave me a comment if you have a blog so I can visit and return the favor :).

Being that I am on the mend, I hope to post something read-worthy soon.

Til then, have a great rest of your weekend!

p.s. FYI, that is not me in the above pic, but a quite accurate portrayal of my state of being this week. And it makes me chuckle. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wardrobe Malfunction

Last week, we received an invitation to preach on Sunday night(last night) for a little country church that is currently without a pastor. We always look forward to going to this church. The congregation is made up of mostly elderly, country folks who are genuine and sincere in their experience. It is refreshing to see how they put everything they've got into the service. Some places won't get behind the singing/preaching unless the tempo of the song is fast enough or the preaching is a certain style. Not here.

So, they turn the service over to us and my husband called me to come sing. He chatted a little while the piano player picked out the tune and we adjusted the key. That's when it happened. I felt my pantyhose roll up and begin a slow, but sure, descent down my hips. What is one to do? My first reaction, however unwise, was to ignore them and hope they'd find a stopping place soon. As I gave in a little testimony and told them how glad we were for the invitation, they continued their slow retreat. What is a girl to do? I reached down and tugged one side, then the other. I glanced up from the spot on the back wall where I had fixed my gaze to see my husband looking at me with an expression of confusion and horror, as if I'd grown another head. He gave a curt shake of his head. So I chose the only other alternative: I grabbed a handful of pantyhose on the side and hung on for dear life while I sang my song.

Somehow, miraculously, I made it through the song. I don't recall feeling any special anointing. I fixated my eyes back the spot on the wall to avoid seeing the expression on people's faces. I can only imagine. What is wrong with this sister who is pulling at her underwear and singing with one hand on her hip like she's posing for a Chadwick's catalog photo shoot? As I was replacing the mic in the stand, one lady called out, "You got anymore songs?" I politely smiled, but made a beeline straight for the lady's room. Next time I'll remember to put my other, stomach-flattening unmentionable on TOP of my pantyhose!

I can only be thankful that this happened before a small congregation of mostly dim-sighted elderly saints. I'm hoping the few younger members do not completely write us off because of my strange, unladylike behavior.

And once again, the saying is proven: "The Funniest Things Happen In Church".

I hope I brought a smile to you face on Monday :).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What I'm Lovin' Friday

FYI: I posted this on Thursday by mistake! Come back and read it tomorrow ;).

This could be one of my favorite 'Friday' themes. I enjoyed Feminine Friday with Natural Mama for awhile (ahem), and always love to visit Renaissance for Foto Friday (at which I drool and dream I could take pictures like her). Now, my bloggy friend Ashlee has started "What I'm Lovin' Friday" and today is my first time to participate.

Here's what I'm Lovin'!:

~~FALL, FALL, FALL! The weather, the decor, the food {ya know, chilli, pumpkin bread},the fashion, and the fact that Thanksgiving is just right around the corner! Personally, I could really care less about Halloween. I wish we could just skip it all together and celebrate Thanksgiving for an extra month.

Here's a peek at my fall foyer tablescape. A work in progress. Proof that I am not related to Martha Stewart.

~~This kids' kitchen:

I'm in love. And if you visit, you'll be amazed at what this woman can build, and even more amazing, you can build it too! Unless you're like me, and running a little short on time :).

~~These beanie hats:

Note this is not my child {mine's cuter}, but a great representation of the hat. I'm stalking several on ebay and will order one as soon as the new budget period rolls around! I'll be sure to share pics :).

~~I'm lovin' that Emma is potty-trained! Except for pull-ups at night, we are diaper-free. And, she is the only child of mine ever to wake up and ask to go potty at night. Wow!

OK, I was starting to feel a little materialistic, but that last one saved me :).

So what are you loving today?